The Fifth National Environment Conference

Keynote Address by Ms. Caitlin Wiesen, UNDP Viet Nam Resident Representative

August 4, 2022

H.E. Mr. Le Van Thanh, Deputy Prime Minister
H.E. Mr. Tran Hong Ha, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment
Mr. Le Quang Huy, Chairman of National Assembly Committee on Science, Technology and Environment
Excellencies, distinguished guests,
Ladies and Gentlemen,

Good morning.
It is an honor and privilege to join you this morning  to deliver a keynote address at Viet Nam's Fifth National Environment Conference. This conference takes place at an especially important point in time, as MONRE, under the leadership of Minister Ha, celebrates its 20th anniversary and as the country moves to implement the COP26 climate commitments made by Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh.

At the outset, I would like to congratulate the Government of Viet Nam and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment for setting clear dual growth goals of becoming a high-income country by 2045 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

To achieve these dual goals, Viet Nam would benefit from a ‘Green Doi Moi’, as now, more than ever, the country needs a trajectory that sustains and regenerates the natural capital on which people, communities, and the economy depend.

Reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero in less than thirty years may sound like a daunting task, particularly as the country is simultaneously striving to become a high-income country by 2045. Yet, in the past, Viet Nam has demonstrated its ability to achieve remarkable results over similar time spans. For example, the economic policies instituted as part of ‘Doi Moi’ lifted 40 million people out of poverty in less than two decades.  More recently and remarkly Viet Nam leapt in a matter of a few years to become a leader in South East Asia in solar energy.

To achieve Viet Nam’s ambitious net zero objective, UNDP would like to share  6 priority actions to consider drawing from lessons around the world, to propel a new mission for a ‘Green Doi Moi’.

Firstly, stronger climate legislation is needed to direct an economy-wide transformation toward national net-zero targets. Globally, countries have developed long-term climate change laws that can serve as good practices and bolster a ‘whole-of-society’ approach to new climate ambitions. A comprehensive climate law is needed that would  enable breakthrough innovations, and avoid unnecessary policy overlaps. At the same time, it is critical   to continue to make climate information services accessible to all people, especially  those who bear the burden of climate impacts.

Secondly, to deliver on commitments for a Just Energy Transition, it is vitally important to simultaneously accelerate renewable energy generation, improve energy efficiency, and protect workers and the vulnerable. Viet Nam is endowed with enormous potential for renewable energy growth including enviable wind power potential, particularly for offshore wind, with more than 3,200 km of coastline. Viet Nam became a leading country in Asia in renewable energy production in the short span of 4 years  (2018-2021) and this is clearly right direction for  moving forward. The Power Development Plan No 8 with greater ambitions  for renewable energy and less dependence on coal power would be a promising start, which should be approved as soon as possible to guide and crowd in green investments. Here, accelerating marine spatial planning is key to unlock the huge potential of marine renewable energy in ways that are sustainable. This was also a key finding of the Sustainable Ocean Economy Conference jointly organized by MONRE, UNDP and Norway.

Thirdly, Viet Nam needs an innovative and dedicated climate finance strategy to enable green financing flows from all sources of investments and development. It is estimated that Viet Nam will require USD 330-370 billion to achieve  net-zero emissions by 2050. This considerable sum will  require both public and private finance from national and international sources. This includes Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and especially financing from the domestic private sector which plays an  essential role in  supporting the achievement of  this target.  Developing new financial schemes and facilities to attract and generate green finance, for example emission trading system, carbon market, green bonds will be critical

Fourthly, and as highlighted by Minister Ha, a more systemic and cohesive circular economy framework and approach to support low carbon and climate resilient economic development. The National Action Plan on Circular Economy should soon be in place to guide circular economy actions nation wide, especially for  sustainable production and consuption.  Accelerating actions and measures on plastic manufacture, consumption and recycling is also strongly recommended.   

In 2019, Viet Nam was one of the first countries  in the world to join the Global Plastic Action Partnership, an initaitve hosted by the World Economic Forum. Viet Nam is also one of just four countries globally to have already established a National Plastic Action Partnership, which is led by MONRE. Building on our  long standing partnership with MONRE, UNDP is proud to support the hosting of the National Plastic Action Partnership Viet Nam Secretariat. UNDP will work closely with national and international members of NPAP Viet Nam and other stakeholders to catalyze and accelerate the plastic circular economy across key sectors.

Fifthly, Nature-based Solutions support a sustainable pathway for Viet Nam. In the speech at COP26, Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh further reiterated that “all that we do must be nature-based and centred around people, for they are the actors and drivers of sustainable development, in order to leave no one behind”. Nature-based solutions offer promising benefits for Viet Nam including, among others, enhanced water and food security, reduced impacts of disasters and climate change, and nature-based jobs and livelihoods.

Lastly, Viet Nam needs to strive for an inclusive transition, that puts ‘people’ and social equity considerations at the centre of all policies. Deivering an  inclusive transition  that is Just will take:   maximizing positive socio-economic impacts while ensuring equitable benefits, conserving natural resource, and introducing key safeguard measures to protect local communities and workers from  adverse effects as we move towards the net-zero target.

At the heart of Viet Nam’s climate programmes, young people – their vitality and energy – can be a driving force for a Green Doi Moi, by empowering youth to champion climate knowledge and technologies and   lead green innovations and resilient businesses. In their ‘Special Report on Youth for Climate Action’, Vietnamese youth have outlined the challenges they face in undertaking climate action, and  developed a roadmap to accelerate youth-led actions so that Viet Nam’s youth can effectively join and help lead the race to zero.

In conclusion, I would like to recall the historic resolution adopted last week by the United Nations General Assembly recognising the human right to a clean, healthy and sustainable environment, which is an important tool for accountability and climate justice. In the words of UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres “the well-being of people around the world and the survival of future generations depends on the health of our planet”.

On the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, I would like to take this opportunity to congratulate Minister Ha and all our MONRE colleagues for the contributions of the Ministry to  environmental protection and sustainable national development.  The recently approved National Climate Change Strategy, led by MONRE, and its implementation in the coming years, is vital for delivering a Just Climate transition for Viet Nam. As always, UNDP and the UN stand ready to support the Government of Viet Nam in its next transition to a green, carbon neutral, circular and climate resilient economy where no one is left behind.